When a kid does wrong, it’s easy for him to blame his parents or society – anyone but himself.

But teens say the culprits often should be pointing fingers at themselves. “Parents teach their kids to make good choices,” says Ronnie Brown, 16, from Excel High School. Often, perpetrators like to play dumb, laying fault on violent video games, TV shows, or their parents for being too lax. But those excuses don’t fly with many teens. “The kid knows right from wrong and if they do wrong it’s on them,” says Landon Fitzpatrick, a freshman at the Henderson School. For sure, parents have influence over their child’s actions. Teens say parents need to set clear boundaries of behavior, maintain a strong presence in their kids’ lives, and regularly sit down and talk with them about what they’re up to. However, at the end of the day, the kid is still responsible for his own activities. “It was the child’s choice to break the law,” says 14-year-old Tyler Andrade, from Dorchester.
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Eighteen-year-old Angelica Ortiz laments the lack of consistent outward love at home.

“My parents now show affection only when something good or bad happens,” says Ortiz, who goes to Boston Community Leadership Academy. As teens get older, they start to realize the importance of affection. At the same time, some parents are pulling back on showing that emotion. “Affection is needed because it’s part of communication,” says Rodell Pires, a senior at BCLA. Teens say that they feel closer to their parents when they feel that warmth. “Parent affection,” says Ronnie Brown, 16, from Excel High School, “makes the relationship stronger.”
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Relationships
School time relationships don’t make the grade

Victoria Johnson, a sophomore at Dorchester Academy, says she’s been in a relationship for nine months and has her priorities set.

“My relationship is more important than school and my grades are not that good because I don’t pay attention,” she says. School grades are affected by many outside influences. Relationships are a big item. Hamilton McFerson, a 15-year old from Dorchester Academy, has been in a relationship for four months. “My relationship stresses me out and I can’t focus in school,” says McFerson. “My grades are really affected by my relationship. I put more into my relationship than school.” Not so for Genesyss Oller, 15, from Madison Park High School. “I honestly think my grades are good because I focus more on my school work,” she says, “And I’m not worried about boys.”
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Honesty is the best policy, right? So what happens when you tell the raw truth? Do teens prefer to be told straight up or hide behind the little white lies?

Aahkeilah Rogers, 19, from Dorchester, says she would rather have a friend be honest with her. “At the end of the day,” she says, “a friend is going to have your best interest at heart.” Mikayla Willingham, 15, from Dorchester, knows that telling the truth sometimes is hard, and that you are considered shady if you are dishonest and do one thing but come back and tell your friend another thing. “The word fake is used too often,” Willingham says. Daquan Lee, 16, from Roxbury, cherishes hearing the truth from a friend rather than finding out from others. “Telling the truth is something that can be either appreciated or declined,” says Lee. “You can’t live your life in lies.”
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Arvonne Patterson, 17, knows that the truth can hurt. “If you listen to people’s opinions, sometimes you can lack self-confidence,” says Patterson, who goes to Madison Park High School. We live in a world where everyone weighs in on everything and people let everybody get to them. Kaylan Williams, 18, from Brighton High School, says that there are millions of opinions out there and that not everyone will have a positive one of you. Sherri Cajuste, 17, from Roslindale, says she used to let people’s views bother her. “Then I realized who I was and that their opinions did not matter,” says Cajuste. “It also made me realize that I had a purpose before anyone else had an opinion.”
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